Judge Dredd is gay. I don’t mean gay in the laddy, late twentieth century, “eurgh your jumper is gay” or, “you like sausages? – that’s gay” sense. Nor do I mean it in the “full of folly and japes – he’s such a happy young chap” sense, that a lot of gay people cling onto as some kind of counter insult.
I mean gay in the, “I’m a Rylan for mayor advocate, I really enjoy re-runs of Supermarket Sweep and I’m a big fan of the penis” sense.
Oh, also, I don’t mean is.
There has been a heap of speculation surrounding the forthcoming 2000 AD comic strip featuring Judge Dredd kissing a man and some noise about a teenager coming out in an edition wonderfully named, with the finest synecdoche seen since Kaufman’s bullcrap about New York, “Closet”.
This just doesn’t sound right. Dredd, the big bureaucratic badass, so manly, so strong, so asexual-clone. It just can’t be true. I’ve even taken to running scenarios in my head in order to explain the kiss. Perhaps the teenager is being coerced into sodomy by some miscreant and Dredd, doing the kid a massive solid, deals justice in the only way that seemed appropriate at the time – by kissing the gay away. What if he’s used sexual coercion himself, and he’s really biting a baddy’s tongue off in an Old Testament style punishment for chatting shit. Or maybe he’s just drunk – I mean, I kiss guys when I’m drunk all the time and that doesn’t make me gay.
Though this feeling of unease and sexual confusion is not solely down to Dredd’s persona (or mine for that matter), I feel as if it’s more indicative of comic books as a whole. For years, comics and their fandom have been universally spat on with the image of the sexually repressed straight man, bathed in the ephemeral glow of a RedTube Cumpilation. It’s what we’ve come to expect from those that spend their pocket money on children’s picture books – we all know someone who conforms to the stereotype. I’ve got a mate called Theo, for instance, who fits that bill precisely – and come to think of it he’s a massive Judge Dredd fan too.
But it’s a stereotype and we all know how fraudulent they can be in their representation of a people; be it Black, Asian, or sad lame-o’s who can’t read actual books. Stereotypes are nonsense, and making a character gay or lesbian should be no more strange than making them a dweeby, insecure cyclopse with a laser that shoots out of their eye.
In fact, in the comic book world – it’s becoming part of the norm. Dredd is just another comic star in an ever increasing line to get the gaykeover treatment. It all began with X-Man and all round homosexual – NorthStar, who, in a 1992 copy of the strip announced, “I am gay” to a creeped out audience of mutants. The line itself was only allowed after years of argument and homosexual suggestion, as the then editor-in-chief of Marvel refused to allow NorthStar to openly be a bender. This cutting edge edition then went on to be the only comic book accepted by the Gaylactic Spectrum Awards into their Hall of Fame.
Is that someone sniggering in the back of the class?! This is the 21st century. There’s nothing funny about the word Gaylactic. Though it does get a little funnier the more you type it – it’s kind of like the stuff gay guys would put on their cereal, or…
There have been many other gay comic characters since. The Rawhide Kid was relaunched in 2003 as a gay man, The Young Avengers produced a dude shmooze starring Wiccan and Hulking, and I don’t recall anyone complaining when DC Comics relaunched Batwoman as a lesbian. A bit of trivia for you; the day of Batwoman’s relaunch coincidentally fell on the fabled ‘Day of Great Quietness’ – a 24 hour period during which internet activity diminished to a slow, steady drip – only to explode with torrents of posts later that day. Then there’s the Green Lantern who is now gayer than Kenneth Williams in Carry On Camping. And of course, last year saw NorthStar marrying his long-term partner, Kyle.
So it’s not like Dredd is set to become an iconoclast; these things have been done for years. Why would you make him gay now? Perhaps it’s something to do with last year’s Dredd having, by all estimations, flopped on the big screen, grossing close to $34million, $16million under budget. You can just see the board meeting now:
“Well we’ve bombed in the box office, the people are pissed and I don’t know how we’ll ever recoup these losses.”
“How about we make Dredd gay?”
“Think about it… who would suspect Dredd of being gay, the media will go crazy. That’s cash money!”
“Perhaps it will get us into the Gaylactic Hall of Fame!”
Then they all draw penises on pieces of paper and drink goats’ milk.
In which case, this practice of manipulating someone’s sexuality in order to make a buck is steeped in a nefariousness so deep, even Dredd wouldn’t know how to punish it. Maybe he would kiss the gay away or something, I don’t know.
Perhaps that’s just a cynical approach to something that we should, in actual fact, be celebrating. For, as our MPs finally fumble over the finish line in the iron age argument of Equal Marriage, should we not be encouraging representation of the LGBT community in every aspect of art and media? Surely we have come to a point now where we don’t have to separate out people into these beguiling brackets, and every character trait is treated as is. And so what if Judge Dredd is gay? He would make a great homosexual – just look at all his handcuffs, skin tight bodysuit and over the top, gold shoulder pads – that stuff’s proper gaylactic.